This New Year brings an intense political landscape around the world. In Latin America, eight countries will have elections; two of those will benefit from the transparency and security of e-voting once again, while the rest will face the challenge of organizing partially automated elections or will continue to work to financially support the electronic way.
Given what is on the agenda, 2013 will be a year of accomplishments for voting technology, but it will also test the political conviction of governments to promote the most effective, efficient and safe way of voting available today: e-voting.
Among the countries that will modernize a phase of their voting systems we have Ecuador; on February 17, this nation will elect their new president, 137 members of the National Assembly and 5 representatives to the Andean Parliament. In 2011, Ecuadorians had to wait for two weeks to know the results of a referendum, so the National Electoral Council (CNE) worked to improve their quick count system (for preliminary results), and just approved –after rejecting the proposals of two other companies – to perform the preliminary transmission of results with equipment from the Dominican Republic’s voting authority. The process will consist of “computer kits connected to a scanner, placed in polling stations, which will be used to transmit the precinct counts before they are publicly announced”.
Besides Ecuador, presidential elections will also be held in Paraguay (April 21), Honduras (November) and Chile (November 17). In the case of Honduras, just like in Peru, there is a legal base to modernize the voting process, but the Executive (which is in charge of granting funds) refuses to finance a system which would provide guarantees to the voters. Let us remember that last November, Hondurans had to wait over two weeks to know the result of their primary elections; we hope that the New Year will bring electoral reforms which include the transmission of preliminary results of the presidential election and a formal proposal for e-voting.
In Bolivia, although no elections will take place this year, the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) announced that it will debate in depth the application of e-voting. The discussion will have a technological-legal perspective, in order to evaluate its implementation for the 2014 general elections.
Finally, we conclude with the validation of e-voting in Venezuela and Argentina. The former will use it to choose mayors and councilmen on May 26, while the latter will hold legislative elections.
These two countries have set trends when automating their elections. Venezuela, guided by Smartmatic, has over a dozen automated elections to their name. Machines that biometrically authenticate the voter, touch-screens, e-ballots, printed voting vouchers, and automated vote counting and transmission are some of the strengths of the robust Venezuelan system.
Argentina will carry out elections in October to choose their national legislators; provincial legislators will be chosen in November. Some regions already have laws that contemplate the automation of voting processes, and throughout 2011 some localities began automation, but as of now there is not a government plan that makes the adoption of voting technology on a national scale a foreseeable event. In spite of this, several provinces will see the differences between manual and e-voting for themselves since in these next elections there will be great divergences between zones, and this will make the contrast between moving forward and staying behind all the more evident.